Baltimore Ravens‘ head coach John Harbaugh named center Gino Gradkowski as the starter entering the 2013 regular season over A.Q. Shipley, as the Ravens open the year next Thursday night against the Denver Broncos.
“I consider A.Q. a second starter,” Harbaugh noted via Carrollcountytimes.com. “He’s played tremendously well, as has Gino. They’ve both done a great job, and we’re fortunate to have both those guys playing that position for us.”
The writing was on the wall for the Ravens to go this route, given the fact that the team rested a lot of their starters in their final preseason game Thursday night against the St. Louis Rams, and Shipley played.
Gradkowski, from what I saw in the Ravens’ four preseason games, showed good push, and the ability to get to the second level in the Ravens’ zone-blocking scheme. Shipley, on the other hand, just looked man-handled at times as the Ravens were ineffective on offense when he was taking snaps with Joe Flacco more times than not.
By all accounts, Gradkowski had to work really hard to win the job, and he did just that. The Ravens didn’t hand Gradkowski anything as they even traded for Shipley from the Indianapolis Colts in early May of this year.
Gradkowski’s job is difficult given that he is such a young player trying to command the offensive line, but it doesn’t hurt that he plays along side of right guard Marshal Yanda and left guard Kelechi Osemele who are emerging as one of the best guard combos in the NFL.